No More Hidden Fees

The cheap fares that some airlines advertise — $29 to here or $59 to there — may look more expensive later this month. The government is forcing airlines to be more upfront about what your flight will really cost.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, as part of a new set of consumer-protection rules, is requiring airlines in two weeks to:

*Make sure that advertised fares include all government taxes and other fees that now are hidden behind asterisks or stuck in footnotes, but which can add 30% to 50% to a ticket price.

*Include any fees for checking bags when you book and pay for a ticket online. The goal is to prevent passengers who are checking bags from being surprised by the fees and having to pay them at the airport.

*Give customers 24 hours to change their reservations without having to pay rebooking fees. This would save passengers money in case they make a mistake. At present, passengers often don’t see the full cost of a ticket until the last steps of booking and paying for it online. 

In addition to providing greater ease and transparency, the Transportation Department says, the new rules will let consumers more easily compare prices between airlines — some of which have built their business on advertising low fares.

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